Nursing Home Injuries, Falls and Abuse: What You Need To Know to Protect Your Loved Ones

Nursing homes are supposed to be places that take care of frail, elderly people and make them comfortable and keep them safe.

Unfortunately, that’s not always what happens in the real world.

A Kentucky jury last week awarded an $8 million verdict to an elderly woman after she suffered broken legs while being moved onto a bed in a nursing home, according to a story in The Birmingham (Ala.) News. The nursing “attempted to cover up the incident,” the story reported.

A man in a wheelchair goes down a hallway in a nursing home in this file photo. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/selimaksan

A man in a wheelchair goes down a hallway in a nursing home in this file photo. Image credit: © iStockphoto.com/selimaksan

And in Johnson City, Tenn., allegations of patient abuse are being investigated by the state Department of Health in a nursing home where employees abused several dementia patients, according to a story in The Johnson City Press. “The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has launched a criminal investigation into an alleged series of incidents of physical and mental abuse of patients with dementia by nursing assistants at Appalachian Christian Village,” the story reported.

Nursing home injury and abuse complaints are also being investigated in New Orleans, where the state is probing allegations at a facility where questions abound in connection with medication mishaps and failure to properly report incidents to government agencies, according to a story by WDSU-TV Channel 6 in New Orleans.

So what can families do to protect their loved ones in nursing homes and ensure that they are receiving caring, compassionate and loving care?

That very topic will be featured on tomorrow’s live Court Radio broadcast at 7 a.m. Sunday as show host and attorney, Dean Weitzman, and his co-host and fellow attorney, David Rapoport, welcome several special guests to look closely at the issue.

Court Radio is broadcast live every Sunday morning on Philadelphia’s WRNB 100.3 FM, with a simulcast on Magic 95.9 FM in Baltimore. You can also listen live on the Internet at WRNB 100.3 or on Magic 95.9 via streaming audio.

The special guests for the show include Darryl Sanders, the director of environmental services at Hillcrest Center, a Genesis Health Care nursing home facility in Wyncote, and Lisa Edghill, an RN for Correct Health in Atlanta, Ga.

One of the keys to preventing injuries and abuse in nursing homes is for family members to be vigilant and stay involved in the ongoing care for their loved ones, said both experts.

“Families have to get into the habit of taking care of their loved ones even after you drop them off,” Sanders said. “You have to have constant communications with the nursing staff to see what’s going on.”

Edghill agrees, and says it is imperative for family members “to be proactively involved” in the care of their loved ones in any facility. “The family member has to be just as involved in the patient’s care as the nursing home is involved. There should never be a time when you are caught off guard.”

That kind of awareness and oversight by family members can go a long way to preventing serious injuries or abuse, she said. “Not all nursing homes are created equal, so you want to do lots of careful research to be sure they are meeting government standards as far as care.”

When abuse in nursing homes is serious, criminal charges can be lodged by law enforcement agencies.

That’s what happened recently in Santa Barbara, Calif., where a former nursing home employee pleaded guilty to neglecting a patient, according to a story in the Santa Barbara Independent.

Civil lawsuits can also be brought in such cases when families choose to fight for the rights of loved ones who are harmed and injured in nursing home abuse and accident cases. That can include falls, assaults, improper medicine distribution and other injuries.

Be sure to listen in and call in with your questions to Court Radio at 7 a.m. Sunday to hear the whole discussion with co-hosts Dean Weitzman and David Rapoport and their special guests.

The safety and happiness of your loved ones in nursing homes is very much in your hands. Don’t let them down.

About Court Radio

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Court Radio is the place to ask your legal questions and get real answers from lawyers with a deep background in the law, from personal injury to contracts and estates, insurance and much more.

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A production of WRNB-FM radio in Philadelphia, Court Radio is brought to you each week by the law offices of Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., which is known throughout the Philadelphia area as MyPhillyLawyer.